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In what clearly must have been a mistake, the IRS issued Notice 2021-49 to deny the employee retention credit (ERC) on the wages paid to most C and S corporation owners.

According to the IRS:

  • Your corporation can qualify for the ERC on the wages paid to more than 50 percent owner of an S or C corporation if that owner does not have any living brothers and sisters (whether whole- or half-blood), spouse, ancestors, or lineal descendants
  • Your corporation cannot qualify for the ERC on the more than 50 percent owner’s wages if one of those relatives (other than the spouse) is alive.

Example 1. Tom owns 100 percent of his S corporation, and he has no living relatives. Under this new IRS notice, Tom’s corporation can qualify for up to $33,000 in ERC on Tom’s wages.

Example 2. John owns 100 percent of his S corporation, but he has one living relative, a two-year-old daughter. John’s corporation does not qualify for the ERC. Under the new IRS notice, the two-year-old daughter owns by attribution 100 percent of the S corporation, and the IRS says that John, now a tainted relative, works for her and does not qualify for the ERC.

Whoa, that’s not logical!

Also, it may be technically incorrect.

And it’s possible that lawmakers will kill this IRS rule.

To Amend or Not to Amend

Let’s start with this premise. You are a more than 50 percent owner of a corporation. You thought that your corporation qualified for the ERC. At various times before August 4, 2021, the day when the IRS issued Notice 2021-49, you filed your claim to the ERC for 2020 and the first two quarters of 2021.

As we mentioned, when you filed, you believed (as a more than 50 percent owner of a C or S corporation) that wages paid to you by the corporation qualified for the ERC. We did too.

But then, on August 4, 2021, the IRS issued Notice 2021-49 and said no—you don’t qualify. What now? Here’s what we think you should do:

  1. Wait. Do nothing now. There’s no hurry. You have until April 15, 2024, before you have to do anything about your 2020 ERC.
  2. Wait. Don’t claim the ERC for the more than 50 percent corporate owner for calendar year 2021 quarters 3 and 4 until you have clarification that you qualify. Again, there’s no hurry. You can file a Form 941-X anytime within the three-year statute of limitations.

If you are upset by this IRS notice, it’s a good idea to communicate that dissatisfaction to your U.S. senators and congressional representatives.

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